Government of the Federated States of Micronesia






New York, October 28, 2000

Check Against Delivery

Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like, on behalf of the Federated States of Micronesia delegation, to associate ourselves with the statements made earlier by the distinguished representative of Samoa on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and by the distinguished representative of Tonga on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum countries at the United Nations (SOPAC).

Thank you Mr. President, for convening this meeting on such an important and vital subject. My delegation is very grateful to the diligent work of the Secretary-General and welcomes his report on this agenda item. We acknowledge also the very important work carried out by the Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea.

Mr. President,

Since we last discussed this agenda item in the 54th session of this United Nations Assembly, we are pleased to note significant progress in this area. In particular, the successful convening of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea at its first meeting earlier this year is a significant achievement and a step in the right direction for the United Nations in its efforts to review developments in the area of ocean affairs. The member states of this United Nations must continue to lend their support to this process if we are to achieve true and meaningful discussions on an important common heritage of mankind - the oceans and seas.

My delegation also welcomes the signing of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, made pursuant to the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. Implementation of this new Convention ensures the rational conservation, management, and thus sustainability of migratory fish stocks in the Convention Area.

My delegation commends the cooperation and goodwill shown by our fellow Pacific Island nations in the negotiations of the Convention. Most notable is the participation of small island countries like my own. For them participation constitutes a great compromise of exclusive rights previously gained through the EEZ regime of UNCLOS. Also, for many, if not all of the small island parties, the resource over which they are sharing exclusive rights with others is the single most economically significant one; and it is the only resource over which our economic future can be assured. In cooperating and even sacrificing that our other fellowmen would benefit, we hope that others would also cooperate with us by paying greater attention to the many plights of small island countries.

Mr. President,

My delegation knows too well the significance that the ocean plays in the lives of our own people. Our history began in the days when man explored seas in rafts and canoes. We, who remain, continue to rely heavily on the bounties of the ocean and are proud guardians of this heritage - the Pacific Ocean - for our common humanity.

Despite all the efforts undertaken by the international community, the state of ocean affairs remains precarious. Indiscriminate destruction of the ocean resources by large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing, while generally is on a decline, still remains a threat to marine living resources. This is in clear contravention of the terms of the moratorium agreed to by the international community in Resolution 46/215. We call upon States that have not done so to take immediate and effective measures to ban illegal drift-net fishing.

The incidence of unauthorized fishing in zones of national jurisdictions and on the high seas, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) continue to be of concern to my delegation. The vast exclusive economic zone under my country's jurisdiction, rich in fish resources and one of the principle resources for the economic development of my country requires careful management and monitoring to address illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. My country, like any other small island developing state, simply cannot act alone but requires the cooperation of other States to take greater enforcement measures to ensure that their vessels do not fish in areas of national jurisdiction. To maximize effectiveness, States must ensure that even when their vessels are authorized to fish in areas of national jurisdictions, they must comply with the terms of that authorization. We support the resolution now before this Assembly on large scale pelagic drift-net fishing, unauthorized fishing in zones of national jurisdiction and on the high seas, fisheries by catch and discards, and other developments, and we urge all delegations to actively support the resolution.

Having made this plea, my delegation would like to note its concern over the issue of fisheries by catch and discards. While by catch and discards are understandably a result of untargeted or incidental catches, call them collateral victims of fishing methods if you will, the issue is nevertheless one that deserves a greater focus of attention. Some of the fish species that usually constitute by catches and discards are important to the daily diet of island people, especially the smaller species which are easily catchable. What may be discarded by some as unsuitable for commercial mass consumption, they are actually important to the subsistence livelihood of island people. Therefore, we should not squander this God-given food resource just because it ends up in the wrong net. Instead, the international community should strive stronger to minimize the incidence of collateral catches in fisheries in order to conserve resources and ensure biodiversity.

Mr. President,

We are encouraged by the heightened international attention to the need of small island developing states in their capacity building process. Key to increasing the effectiveness of the United Nations and the international community in dealing comprehensively with ocean issues, is strengthening the capacities of these countries who together control a vast portion of the earth's ocean. We note the call by the resolutions before us for the establishment of trust funds to provide training for technical and administrative staff, particularly of the least developed countries and small island States, as well as to facilitate their participation at the meetings of the Consultative Process. We suggest that assistance must not be limited to the attendance at the Consultative Process, but should include other Law of the Sea bodies like the International Sea-Bed Authority where meetings continued to be sparingly attended by small island States due to financial difficulties. As stewards and stakeholders of these resources our participation in these processes is a critical element if we are to effectively combat the many taunting issues affecting our world's ocean.

My delegation welcomes also the use of the Trust Funds to assist small island States in their submissions to the Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf. As a small island State with meager resources and limited technical know-how, my country requires the assistance of the international community both in terms of financial and technical support to meet its obligations under the UNCLOS. We therefore call upon the generous support of the developed countries and donor community to contribute financially or otherwise to the trust funds.

Last but not least, and noting the significant trend towards universal participation and adherence to the legal regime established by UNCLOS, we reiterate the call by many delegations before us for those States that have not ratified UNCLOS to do so.

As the United Nations continues to seek effective means to preserve an important heritage of mankind, our ability to do so successfully depends to a large extent on the ratification and implementation of UNCLOS and its associated instruments.

Thank you, Mr. President.